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How Long Can Lice Live Off The Head

Head lice infestations are a fact of life with 6 to 12 million cases a year reported in the U.S. alone according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). If you’re a parent, you should know that the vast majority of these cases are children aged 3 to 11.


They are parasitic insects about the size of a sesame seed that feed on blood under your scalp. They exist in three growth stages with the first, of course, being an egg. Lice eggs are known as nits, and they are securely attached to the base of hair strands close to the warm scalp where the heat incubates them and provides a convenient food source after they hatch. Upon hatching, they’re called nymphs, and after about 9 to 12 days, they are considered adult lice.


Lice are primarily spread through direct physical contact. This will typically require head-to-head contact or at least the hair of an infested person touching the hair of another. Lice can’t fly or jump, but they have 6 legs that are specially made for grabbing on to and moving along human hair.

It’s also possible for lice to spread by someone wearing the hats or scarves of an infested person or by using their comb, hairbrush or headphones. For this reason, it becomes important to know how long lice can live when they’re not on a person’s scalp.


Lice are very vulnerable if they’ve fallen off their particular human host. They need to be near the rich food source of the human scalp where they regularly feed off the blood underneath. Nits that become detached from their hair strand typically die without ever hatching since they need the heat and moisture in the environment near the scalp to incubate.

Adult lice can’t survive for more than about 24 hours on a nonhuman surface such as clothing, helmets, hats, carpets, furniture or hair accessories. While 24 hours is not long, it’s possible that lice can be picked up by someone who comes into contact with the contaminated surface during this time. If you’ve detected head lice on one or more of your children, beyond seeking head lice treatment for them, you should wash any of their clothing, pillowcases, hair accessories or any other items used or worn on or near the head. Isolate, by putting in a plastic bag, any items that can’t be laundered. They should be kept in the bag for more than 24 hours just to be sure.


Taking the steps to kill any lice that may be lingering around the house will be for naught if you don’t also handle the lice on your infested loved one. Lice have grown resilient over the years to the toxins used in so many over-the-counter lice shampoos, so these are not very effective anymore. You need to be sure that any head lice removal process you try is guaranteed to eliminate all the lice and their nits. A couple missed nits or female lice and the whole problem will start right back up again.

Fortunately, if you live in the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania area, we have a perfect solution to the problem of head lice. Simply bring any family members you feel may have lice to Lice Lifters of Montgomery County. Our certified lice technicians will begin with a lice head check to make sure that they do have lice. If it’s confirmed, then we start with a thorough comb-out utilizing a special lice comb and follow this up with the application of a 100 percent safe and all-natural killing solution that’s effective against the lice and their nits.

We provide a kid-friendly environment and can treat all of your infested family members at the same time so you’re in and out quickly. Best of all, our head lice treatment is completed in a single visit, and it’s guaranteed to be effective. Please contact us today, so we can schedule your lice head check at your earliest convenience!

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